Do you have a sweet tooth? Well, when it comes to health, sugar has a bittersweet reputation. As sugar is present in all foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy, consuming whole foods is not bad.
However, consuming too much added sugar can have serious negative consequences on health like obesity, diabetes, and poor heart health. In a study published in 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers revealed an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease.
According to Sheryl Salis – Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes, Educator, Founder – Nurture Health Solutions, sugar serves as the primary energy source for every cell in the brain. The brain interprets sugar as a reward, leading to increased cravings for it. “Consuming excessive sugar regularly reinforces this reward mechanism, making it challenging to overcome the habit,” she told Financial Express.com.
What happens when you indulge in sugar cravings?
Indulging in sugar cravings frequently can significantly affect your health, increasing the risk of conditions like obesity, heart disease, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, etc., Salis explained.
Sugar is often consumed in the diet through added sugar in coffee, tea, desserts, etc., or from packaged food.
How to curb sugar cravings?
According to Salis, if you are craving sugar, here are some ways to curb those cravings:
Retrain your taste buds
- Train your taste buds to enjoy things with less sugar.
- Try cutting out one sweet food each week, MAKE SMALL AND SUSTAINABLE CHANGES!
- Try adding less sugar in your coffee or cereal.
Punch the sugar craving by adding protein
- High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you full for longer.
- Add proteins like lean chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, or beans to meals.
Fill up on fibre
- It prevents after meal cravings and hunger spikes.
- Choose whole fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Spread some unsweetened peanut butter on an apple for a protein/fiber combo.
Limit the nutritive sugars
- Honey, brown sugar and jaggery are different forms of sugar and their calories and carbs still count.
- Non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia may be used as a sugar replacement to cut down on calorie intake, however, Moderation is Key!
Choose Good-for-You sweets
- Try fresh fruit with oatmeal instead of sugar.
- Explore naturally dried fruits like dates, figs, raisins, and apricots in moderation.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a sugar intake of less than 6 teaspoons per day. It is, therefore, advisable to embrace lifestyle modifications, which should include reducing sugar consumption, adopting a well-balanced diet, and engaging in regular physical activity. These changes can help mitigate the risk of lifestyle diseases,” she told Financial Express.com.